Murphy worked in restaurants through high school and college, but
after he got his degree he realized he’d still rather be in the
kitchen. Murphy worked in the local-food-focused kitchens of Nostrana
and Tastebud restaurants in Portland, Ore. before following girlfriend
Erika Ehley back to her hometown of Milwaukee. Instead of continuing
to work in the kitchen, he decided to go out to the fields of
Wellspring Farm in Newburg. Murphy, who is now the executive chef at
Honeypie, explains his obsession with root vegetables.
Tell me more
about your interest in local foods.
a little bit behind Portland in the food scene, but the city is
becoming this great up-and-coming farm-to-table community with new,
awesome restaurants popping up every day. I think it’s just going to
grow from here, and people are beginning to realize what great food
Milwaukee has to offer. In Portland, I was introduced to local food,
and at Tastebud, we had a mobile, wood-fired oven, and we were cooking
on it down at the farmers market each week. That got me interested in
farming, and I thought I’d try it out for a while. Working at
Wellspring gave me more of an appreciation of where food comes from,
and it taught me more about how things are grown, which I’m still
inspired to garden?
"I have a
giant garden. It just doesn’t do as well as others. It’s
unbelievable that I produced anything this summer, but I did."
How did you
land at Honeypie?
just down the street from them, and they were hiring. I loved the fact
that they utilized local ingredients, and they’re really the local
part of the local restaurant scene. After a year I can say I’m a Bay
Tell me about
your culinary philosophy.
fresh, keep it local and keep it simple, and good things will happen.
I like to cook vegetables a lot, and the way we do our salads is just
awesome. That’s one of my favorite things. We keep it very seasonal
here, and we use Growing Power greens, and they are some of the
greatest greens out there. The colors are great, they’re super
fresh, and outside of providing great produce, Growing Power does
other good work. We just started offering our beet salad. We also are
doing our apple salad. Apples are in season, and that salad comes with
bacon, apples, buttermilk dressing and chives, and then also we add
Hook’s 5-year-old cheddar, which really sells it."
sometimes seem underappreciated by some.
100 percent. People in this country often see them as an afterthought.
If they ate more vegetables while they were in season, they would
realize that they have such dynamic flavors. Root vegetables — the
parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, celery root — I just don’t think
they’re very familiar to people. Since they don’t look very good,
people get very intimidated. But they’re so versatile in the
kitchen. What you can do to a potato, you can almost do to a million
different root vegetables, and they’re pretty much available all
through the winter because they store very well, which is nice here in
Wisconsin because we have a long one."